Tennessee Titans linebacker Avery Williamson (54) battles with Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib (21) during a scuffle in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
Mark Zaleski
December 12, 2016

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Harry Douglas is correct in his argument that his low hit on Chris Harris Jr. is permissible. He's mistaken in his contention it was clean.

Tennessee's journeyman wide receiver - known now in Denver as the Titans' goon - was blocking toward his opponent's goal line, not away from the ball. And the play was still live, albeit nowhere near where Harris was standing.

So, legal, yes.

But also dirty.

''I have never had a player try to end my career like that,'' Harris said. ''That was dirty and he should be fined. That's not football.''

The one facing a fine is Aqib Talib, who jumped on Douglas on the next play, scuffling around in what quickly became a scrum on the Tennessee sideline. Talib lost his helmet and was penalized for unnecessary roughness when an ejection might have been in order.

So, Talib stayed in the game and Harris returned and played the rest of the way, which Denver lost 13-10, but Talib was just as angry after the game .

''It was a dirty play by a sorry player,'' Talib said, adding they have the same agent, ''so when I see his ass in Atlanta, I'm going to beat his ass.''

Talib said Monday he'd moved on to the Patriots' upcoming visit, but he didn't back off having his teammate's back.

''We're going to play for each other,'' Talib said. ''That's what we do every day. That's why we play the game. We play for our checks and we play because we love to be around each other.''

Broncos coach Gary Kubiak watched the cringe-worthy play on film and said, ''First off, I'm just so thankful Chris is OK. ... I disagree with the play. But I'll take my opinion to the league and deal with it from that standpoint.''

Kubiak said he understood Talib's reaction.

''First off, we've got a strong team. We've got each other's back. You'd better have each other's back in this business, in what we do,'' Kubiak said. ''But you also got to be smart and you can't hurt your team.''

Douglas' decision to take out Harris' right knee was one of the worst moves of Week 14.

Other calls backfired spectacularly, like San Francisco coach Chip Kelly's decision to go on fourth-and-2 at the Jets 37 in overtime, only to watch Carlos Hyde - who had run for a career-high 193 yards - get stuffed. The Jets then drove for the winning score.

Kelly said the 49ers were 3 yards shy of kicker Phil Dawson's range - he'd already missed two field goals - and he didn't want to punt.

''I didn't want to give the ball back to them,'' Kelly said. ''I thought with a yard that we had a shot the way Carlos was running.''

Colts tight end Dwayne Allen had a double-whammy, failing to stop Jadeveon Clowney from a sack-strip of Andrew Luck at the Houston 5-yard-line, then compounding the problem by trying to pick up the ball instead of pouncing on it like the Texans did.

The NFL saved face by reversing itself and allowing the Browns and Titans, who were off last week for the league's ''My Cleats, My Cause'' campaign, to go ahead and wear their customized cleats in Week 14.

Speaking of cleats, if Harris doesn't pull his right leg back just after contact, his knee, and maybe his career, gets cratered.

Douglas, a ninth-year pro who had one catch for 10 yards Sunday, vigorously defended his low block.

''First of all, that's a clean play,'' Douglas argued. ''It was a run play with me and him looking at each other and I cut blocked him.''

Just because what he did was legal doesn't mean it was clean, suggested NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci.

''When the corner's lined up in front of you, you can block them down there,'' Mariucci said. ''It just appeared to be kind of a cheap shot at the knee and the way it hit, it could've affected Harris' season and career.''

''That's a cheap shot,'' NBC analyst Rodney Harrison said, mincing no words. ''And I understand why Aqib Talib is so frustrated right now. But in the same respect, you have to keep your poise.''

Harris, who missed Super Bowl 48 with a torn ACL in his left knee, stayed down for a couple of minutes and slowly walked off the field. He said afterward he was sore and in pain.

Harris sent a series of tweets Sunday night:

''Thank God for covering me cuz I thought my knee was gone.''

''Can't get open so let's just take 25 out of the game.''

Douglas set his Twitter account to private after the game.

Von Miller said even if Douglas' actions were within the rules, they broke the unwritten rule of risking another man's livelihood. Miller pointed to the NBA as a league where players look out for one another, like when they forego a hard foul on a dunk.

''They're playing hard and the superstars are going to be superstars, but they're always taking care of each other,'' Miller said. ''There's never crazy, hard fouls that can lead to somebody getting hurt. That stuff happens in basketball, but it's never intentional.

''In basketball, they take care of each other. Football is a more physical sport. But we've got to start doing that. We've got to take care of each other to continue to make our game great.''

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For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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AP NFL Writer Teresa M. Walker and AP Sports Writer Josh Dubow contributed.

Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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